Africa Media Review for November 2, 2020

Tanzanian Opposition Figures Arrested after Disputed Election
A Tanzanian opposition leader says police have arrested several opposition figures and sealed off areas where a peaceful demonstration was to begin on Monday morning over last week’s disputed election. Emmanuel Mvula, campaign manager with the ACT Wazalendo party, said there was a heavy deployment of security forces in the commercial hub of Dar es Salaam, where the two main opposition parties planned to march to the national electoral commission. The chair of the Chadema opposition party, Freeman Mbowe, was among those arrested overnight, Mvula said. The arrest also was reported by Robert Amsterdam, a lawyer for Chadema’s presidential candidate, Tundu Lissu. … The ACT Wazalendo and Chadema parties have accused Tanzania’s ruling party of a “butchering of democracy” after the commission declared populist president John Magufuli the landslide winner of a second term. AP

Tanzania, Once Envy of the Region, Watches Democracy Slide
Vote-counting was far from over when Tanzanian opposition leader Seif Sharif Hamad was frustrated enough to call people onto the streets. As thwarted observers alleged the most blatant election fraud in the country’s history, and with no way to challenge the results in court, there was little to do but protest. But Hamad and others didn’t get far. As they walked toward a roundabout in the semi-autonomous region of Zanzibar on Thursday, police fired tear gas, then arrested them — Hamad’s second arrest in a week. A party official, Ismail Jussa, was badly beaten by soldiers and hospitalized. On the eve of the vote, at least 10 people in Zanzibar were killed. “We were a cradle of peace,” their colleague, ACT Wazalendo party campaign manager Emmanuel Mvula, told The Associated Press after describing the events. But after witnessing Tanzania’s sharp turn away from democratic ideals, “I’m worried for our future as a nation.” AP

Ivory Coast: Ouattara Cruises to Win, Opponents Seek ‘Transition’
Opposition leaders in Ivory Coast have called for a “civilian transition” from President Alassane Ouattara’s government, as official results showed the incumbent taking a commanding early lead in his controversial bid to secure a third term in an election that has been marked by deadly violence. … The president has been expected to win re-election after his opponents called for a boycott of the vote in protest of what they say is an illegal bid to hold onto power. Ouattara says the approval of a new constitution in 2016 means he is not violating a two-term limit. The dispute led to violence in the lead-up to the polls that killed more than 30 people. At least five more people died in clashes on election day in the centre of the country, officials said on Sunday. … Opposition leaders on Saturday already dismissed the election as a failure and several opposition figures, including exiled former rebel chief Guillaume Soro, announced they no longer recognised Ouattara as president. Al Jazeera

Turnout at Record Low in Algerian Referendum Aimed at Giving Parliament More Power
Fewer than one in four Algerian voters took part in Sunday’s constitutional referendum, officials said, despite government efforts to encourage high turnout as part of a strategy to turn the page on last year’s political unrest. President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and the powerful military had presented the new constitution as a sign that they had addressed the causes of public anger that prompted mass weekly protests for more than a year. The referendum result will be announced on Monday at 10 a.m. (0900 GMT). However, Sunday’s turnout of only 23.7%, according to the election body, showed lacklustre backing for a vote that many members of the “Hirak” street protest movement had decried as a sham intended to quash their movement. … The 74-year-old president is hospitalised in Germany amid reports of Covid-19 cases among his staff, and few details have been released on his condition. France24 with AFP

Guinea Ex-Prime Minister Challenges Conde Election Win in Court
Guinea’s main opposition UFDG party lodged a complaint with the constitutional court on Sunday as it seeks to overturn the result of last month’s election won by President Alpha Conde. “We hope that justice will be served and that our client’s victory will be confirmed in the light of the irrefutable evidence that supports our request,” said Alseny Aissata Diallo, a lawyer for opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo. Diallo, the West African nation’s former prime minister, had claimed an early victory for the Oct. 18 vote based on the figures his party, the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea, said it gathered from polling stations. Guinea’s Electoral Commission declared the 82-year-old Conde winner of the election after he garnered 59% of the vote against Diallo’s 33%. Bloomberg

Navy Commandos Rescue American Kidnapped in Niger
U.S. Special Operations commandos carried out a predawn raid on Saturday to rescue an American citizen who had been kidnapped this week from his home in southern Niger. Commandos from the Navy’s elite SEAL Team 6 rescued the American, Philip Walton, 27, after tracking the phones of his attackers to a hide-out in neighboring northern Nigeria, U.S. officials said. “U.S. forces conducted a hostage rescue operation during the early hours of 31 Oct. in northern Nigeria to recover an American citizen held hostage by a group of armed men,” Jonathan Hoffman, the chief Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement on Saturday. … One American official said the assailants were criminals who intended to sell Mr. Walton to terrorist groups in the region. The operation was organized quickly with the assistance of officials in Niger and Nigeria, the official said. The New York Times

Sudan, US Sign Agreement Restoring Sudan’s Sovereign Immunity
Sudan and the United States signed an agreement to restore the African country’s sovereign immunity, the Sudanese Ministry of Justice said Friday. The ministry said in a statement the agreement would settle cases brought against Sudan in U.S. courts, including for the bombing of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, for which Sudan has agreed to pay $335 million to victims. The deal is part of a U.S. pledge to remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism. The designation goes back to Sudan’s toppled Islamist ruler Omar al-Bashir, when Washington believed the country was supporting militant groups. … The designation makes it difficult for its transitional government to access urgently needed debt relief and foreign financing as it fights an economic crisis. Reuters

Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia Restart Nile Mega-Dam Talks
Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia kicked off Sunday the latest round of talks over Addis Ababa’s controversial dam on the Blue Nile, waters critical to the two downstream nations. The week-long negotiations, held via videoconference, include water ministers from the three countries, as well as representatives from the African Union, European Union and the World Bank. Previous three-way talks have failed to produce an agreement on the filling and operation of the vast reservoir behind the 145-meter (475-foot) tall hydropower Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). … “The three sides agreed to continue discussing the issue through a six-member team including two representatives from each country,” Sudan’s water ministry said in a statement. The team, it said, will put “a frame of reference” on the role of experts to facilitate the talks, and will submit their report to the water ministers from the three countries by Wednesday. AFP

Libya’s Warring Sides Discuss Implementing Cease-Fire
Military leaders from Libya’s warring sides met Monday in the oasis town of Ghadames, the United Nations said, the first face-to-face military talks inside Libya since last year’s attack on the capital by the forces of military commander Khalifa Hifter. The fifth round of talks, brokered by the U.N., came less than two weeks after the two sides inked a permanent cease-fire in Geneva on Oct. 23, a move the U.N. billed as historic after years of fighting that has split the North African country in two. The U.N. mission in Libya said the meetings through Wednesday would discuss implementing and monitoring the cease-fire, along with how to verify possible violations. The October cease-fire deal included the return of armed groups and military units “to their camps” and that all foreign mercenaries be out of the oil-rich country within three months. AP

Suspected ADF Attack in DRC Village Kills More Than 20 Civilians
More than 20 civilians have been killed in an attack on a village in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), according to local authorities. Authorities on Saturday blamed the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group for the attack the previous evening, saying its fighters first attacked a rival group of Congolese militia members before killing inhabitants in the village of Lisasa. Local administrator Donat Kibwana, from the Beni territory in North Kivu province, put the “preliminary death toll” at 21. The figure was confirmed by the head of the Buliki area, where Lisasa is located, according to the AFP news agency. A local NGO called Cepadho said in a statement that of the 21 killed, 15 were women. Al Jazeera

Boko Haram ‘Kills 12’ in Raid near Nigeria’s Chibok
Boko Haram jihadists on Sunday killed 12 people and abducted seven others in a raid on a village near the northeast Nigerian town of Chibok, local sources said. Chibok is the scene of the mass kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls in 2014 by Boko Haram which drew global outrage and international attention to the group. Fighters in six pickup trucks drove into Takulashi village on Sunday, 18 kilometers (12 miles) from Chibok, shooting residents and setting homes ablaze. “The terrorists killed 12 people, including two of our members who engaged them in a gunfight,” Abwaku Kabu, the leader of a local government-backed militia said. The Defense Post with AFP

Senegal President Unveils New Cabinet, Retains Finance Chief
Senegal’s President Macky Sall retained key allies, including the finance and economy ministers, as he announced a new cabinet Sunday. Abodulaye Diallo retained the post of finance minister, according to a statement from a presidency spokesman on state broadcaster RTS. Sall also kept Amadou Hott as economy minister, a post he held in the previous cabinet. Sophie Gladima, who previously served as mining minister, was named minister of petroleum and energy, replacing Mouhamadou Makhtar Cisse, who held the post since January 2019. Sall dissolved the cabinet in a surprise move Wednesday as part of a bid to firm up the team that will manage the country’s economic recovery following the pandemic. The new cabinet has 33 ministers and the earlier dissolution came about 18 months after Sall was reelected to a second term. Bloomberg

Nigeria: Bullets, Blood & Death: Untold Story of What Happened at Lekki Toll Gate
After days of extensive reporting, Premium Times can now paint a clearer picture of what happened at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20. … At about 6:45 p.m. on October 20, men in military uniform arrived at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos in three Toyota Hilux vans and almost immediately began shooting into a crowd of peaceful protesters gathered there waving the Nigerian green-and-white flag and reciting the national anthem. Protesters and other witnesses at the toll gate claimed several people were injured and killed in the shooting. A popular Disc Jockey, DJ Switch, who streamed the incident live on Instagram, claimed that the soldiers, after the shooting, took the dead away. She also claimed that a team of police officers arrived later to mop up after the soldiers. … The army initially claimed its troops were not at Lekki that night. However, it later admitted that soldiers were deployed on the request of the Lagos State government. The army, however, insists that its personnel did not open fire on the protesters, let alone kill any. Premium Times

Situation of Journalists in Africa Has Worsened with COVID-19 Restrictions
On 2 November, International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, there are concerns that cases of physical attack and harassment of media representatives in several African countries have increased since Covid-19 lockdown measures came into force. … The New-York-based Committee To Protect Journalists (CPJ) has reported a plethora of incidents from various African countries in the months since the Covid-19 lockdown was enforced. It is urging the 16 heads of state the regional Southern African Development Community (SADC) to prioritise media freedom and safety and to allow a critical exchange of political ideas. In South Africa tempers boiled over in the central Free State province’s agricultural town of Senekal in September when white farmers demanded that police hand over to them three men suspected of killing a young foreman. Journalists were attacked and threatened when they covered this event that included the destruction of police property by the farmers. RFI

Kenya Relief Bid Begins to Avert ‘Hunger Crisis’ among Poor Workers Hit by COVID
In Kenya, a major UN-led cash and nutrition relief project is underway for informal workers facing a hunger crisis brought on by COVID-19, amidst warnings on Friday that the situation is likely even worse in many poorer countries.  “COVID-19 has caused untold suffering especially to families living in the poor urban areas who normally rely on informal day-to-day employment; many families in the coastal region are struggling just to feed themselves,” said Lauren Landis, WFP’s Kenya Country Director.  With the help of local and national authorities in Kenya, the World Food Programme (WFP) has begun rolling out aid for more than 400,000 urban poor in COVID-19 hotspots. In addition to the 300,000 people in Nairobi receiving aid for the next four months, around 100,000 more in Mombasa will receive three months’ assistance in the coastal city. UN News



Photo: Adam Jones